Last year we at ACSH were instrumental in getting the village of Ocean Beach, located on Long Island, to overturn its decades-old chemophobic policy of refusing to participate in the mosquito control program that was routinely used in most of Long Island, as well as wide areas of New York City.
We were prompted to do so after ACSH friend Jim Capuono a six year survivor of colon cancer nearly died from West Nile encephalitis, which he contracted from mosquitoes while vacationing in Ocean Beach in August, 2012.
ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom, also a resident of Ocean Beach researched the hazards of Anvil the insecticide that is routinely used for this purpose, and found that it was actually less toxic than DEET, which people had to slather themselves in just to go outside.
The combined efforts of Jim and Josh resulted in Ocean Beach rejoining the Suffolk County vector control program after a decades-old abstinence that was initiated by the village s environmental committee. For no good reason.
While checking to make sure that the village did not change its mind this summer (it did not), Dr. Bloom came across the warning issued by Suffolk County, which made the spray sound like a chemical weapon.
It is anything but. In fact, Anvil is in the same toxicity category as sand, which is especially ironic because Ocean Beach, as the name suggests, is a beach community.
This prompted him to write a piece for Science 2.0 called Environmentalists almost killed my friend, in which he points out that an irrational fear of chemicals can not only confuse people, but actually harm them.
If there is a better example of misplaced fears, we would be hard-pressed to find it.